There are a number of situations where you may be wondering whether you need to have a criminal defense attorney present. Even if you already have a phone number for a criminal defense attorney services provider, there are still some things you should do before they show up. Here are some of the things a lawyer hopes you keep in mind before you seek counsel or while you're waiting for them to arrive.
Consider Your Legal Exposure
It's easy to assume that a situation doesn't expose you to any legal risk if you feel it doesn't directly involve you. This is the first mistake many people make when they readily volunteer to be witnesses.
Why is this a potential problem? First, even a witness to a crime can become the subject of an investigation very quickly. Second, the police may turn up something in the process of talking with you, such as an old warrant. Third, innocent people sometimes say dumb things that can be misinterpreted. Finally, you may not fully understand the situation you're in, and it might be wise to play it close to the vest until you know all the details.
Don't Discuss Anything Without Counsel Present
When a police officer or a lawyer from a prosecutor's office comes to speak with you, it may be tempting to just go along with the questioning. There's nothing a criminal defense attorney wants less from a client than for them to start chatting with authorities before counsel has appeared. Even if the person interviewing you seems nice and uninterested in you as a potential suspect, do not engage in any more exchanges of information than are necessary to invoke your right to counsel.
Refrain from Doing the Cops' Jobs for Them
Another temptation that people sometimes feel when dealing with law enforcement is the desire to figure out what's happening. Simply don't ever do this. Criminal investigations can be very complex, and it's best to stick to whatever your corner of a case is. Don't speculate about what happened, and don't volunteer any information unless your criminal defense attorney says to do so.
Don't Destroy Anything
If you have criminal exposure, destroying evidence will make it worse. Do not throw out documents or items, and never delete any electronic messages, texts, or voice messages. It's better to face a charge straight up than to add a count of obstruction.
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